How to Pitch Workplace Flexibility to Your Manager

Ginger Dhaliwal

Workplace flexibility is fast becoming ingrained in many organizations. Employers are recognizing the benefits of offering a flex schedule which includes working remotely, working from home, or working hours that suit employee commitments.

A 2018 report states that 53 percent of professionals work at least half of the week remotely. A survey by PwC found that 48 percent of employees who work from home rate their job as 10 on a scale of one to 10.

The benefits of workplace flexibility are well documented. Employees report better productivity and work-life balance, more time with family, and less time wasted commuting to work.

But that’s not all. Workplace flexibility has a significant impact on the health and wellbeing of employees. It improves their relationships and increases their happiness — making them love their jobs even more.

If you too want to enjoy these benefits, then it’s time to pitch the idea of a flexible work schedule to your manager.

While flexible work options may be the norm in many organizations, for some this is uncharted territory. Asking them for flexibility requires planning and forethought.

Remember, you are asking your manager to be flexible about when and where you work. The foremost thought in their mind is how this can impact productivity in the workplace. In other words, pitching workplace flexibility should be about benefits to the organization rather than how it will benefit you.

Even if some employees in your organization have workplace flexibility, you still have to convince your manager that you are a good fit.

Here are some tips for having that conversation.

1. Prove Yourself

To work with a flexible work schedule you need to be able to work independently. This means being super organized so that you complete your tasks on time and achieve targets.

Your manager needs to see that you are efficient and working on your own before he or she approves a flexible schedule for you.

If you are naturally an unorganized person or if you have trouble working self-sufficiently, start cultivating self-management and organization into your daily routine. Learn to develop your personal productivity skills to manage your time and your commitments. Learn skills to support your organization’s goals as well as your own.

2. Do Your Research

Before you pitch workplace flexibility to your manager, it’s a good idea to understand your company’s policies, rules, and stipulations on workplace flexibility. Check the employee handbook or talk to personnel in Human Resources.

If there is no policy at your workplace, then you have your work cut out for you. Research how workplace flexibility works in various organizations. What are their success stories? Who is benefitting from such arrangements? When you understand the key facts about flexibility you will are in a better position to negotiate and help implement a policy for workplace flexibility.

You can also gain insight from other employee’s experiences. Talk to your co-workers and ask them about their flexible arrangements. How do they manage their priorities and a flexible schedule?

3. Make a Plan

Have a plan before you set up an appointment to talk about a new work schedule. Understand your goals for workplace flexibility and decide what will work for you. Why do you want a flexible work schedule? And what plan will help you achieve the work-life balance you need?

Take a good look at your priorities and assess your personal circumstances. Do you need to start work later so that you can drop your kids in the morning? Do you need to work from home so you can get more done without interruption? Do you need to leave earlier to attend a workout class?

Think about your work habits and see what kind of flexibility options will work for you. Some people get distracted and can’t work from home while others crave the camaraderie of workplace colleagues.

4. Lay out the Benefits

When you sit down to talk with your boss, frame your request to highlight the benefits for your employer first.

There is plenty of research on the internet to help you lay out the benefits of workplace flexibility. Here are some of our favorites:

  • There is 59% more growth and revenue when employees are engaged and satisfied (GWA)
  • Flexible work decreases unscheduled absences by 63% (GWA)
  • Flexible work increases morale by 51% and productivity by 50% (Citrix)
  • 87% of people said a flex schedule would lower their stress levels (FutureWorkIQ)
  • Less commute means more time working: 4 hours more on average (Gallup)
  • Every 1% reduction in vehicles on the road yields a three-fold decrease in congestion. (Global Workplace Analytics)

5. Start Small

A flex schedule can be a learning curve for you and your employer. If you haven’t done it before, you will face unique challenges and will have to learn to adopt new techniques. Even if you have worked a flex schedule before, there is a learning curve for your team and the people you work with regularly.

One of the best ways to get your manager on board is to start small and agree to a trial period. You can decide to start once a week or every other week for three months. Use this time to learn how to make a flexible schedule work for you and your employer. Prove to your boss that you are getting more work done. Take the initiative on new projects and communicate more often with your team and your manager.

One of the biggest fears that employers have is that when employees can’t be seen, they are slacking off work. Show them that this isn’t the case with you. Keep track of your work and provide tangible results for your productivity. Be sure to set a time to review your trial period and get feedback from your manager.

6. Keep Expectations Clear

Once your boss agrees to a flexible schedule, make sure you let them know what your end goal is. Perhaps, you want to work shorter hours so you can be home for your kids or you want to work remotely so you can travel more.

Be sure to understand the expectations of your employer too. What targets do you need to achieve? How often will they review your situation? Do you need approval for a flexible schedule or can you submit it ahead of time? What is the procedure for taking these days?

Work with your manager on a viable plan which will benefit both of you. Be open to compromise and learn to negotiate so that you can achieve a flexible work option and reap its benefits.